Paladin rides into town and asks two men where he can find Abel Hix. They direct him to the church, and Paladin finds Reverend Harper, Mrs. Hix, and the handyman Lauro taking a coffin out. A group of townspeople looking on, and their leader, Judd Bowman, says that no one is going to help them with the burial. Harper insists that Abel deserves a Christian burial, but Judd insists that he won't be buried next to their loved ones. Paladin offers his assistance, and Judd says that Abel was a killer and they didn't want him or Paladin in their town. Harper says that Abel was shot, and Mrs. Hix tells them to leave the dead in peace. She asks Paladin to help them take the coffin back inside, and Paladin obliges.
Inside, Mrs. Hix thanks Paladin for his help. He explains that Abel asked him to come there and presents his card. Harper dismisses Lauro and says that Judd was right that there's no place in the town for a gunman, including Abel. Mrs. Hix says that Harper tried to be fair but there's been no trouble in town for a while. Judd owns most of the town, and admits that he killed Abel. They go outside and Mrs. Hix says that Judd claimed that Abel forced him to fight, and Judd outdrew him. There were no witnesses and Abel picked the town to get away from his reputation. Abel hadn't worn his guns for two years, and she wonders why he did on h is last day. Paladin says that he should find out, and Mrs. Hix goes home.
Lauro approaches Paladin and says that he watched the sheep for Abel. Abel gave Lauro something to give to Paladin, and asks Paladin to come with him. They go to Lauro's home, and Lauro goes inside to get an envelope from hiding. There are several bank books in it, and a letter asking Paladin to take out all of the money, keep $1,000 as his fee, give $1,000 to Lauro who he loves as the son he never had, and give the rest to the church because Mrs. Hix loves it. Lauro says that Abel was his friend, and Paladin asks him to keep his horse and the bank books.
Back at the church, Paladin asks Harper what he knew about Abel. Harper explains that Abel was as sick man and came there with his wife. He didn't speak of his past and was eventually accepted, until two drifters came to town and recognized him. Paladin tells Harper about the bequest, and points out that there was room in Abel's heart for love even if there was no room in town for a gunfighter. As Paladin leaves, he says that Judd couldn't have outdrawn Abel in a fair fight. What Paladin does about it is up to Mrs. Hix.
Judd and his men confront Paladin as he walks away, and Paladin wonders if it's the people who want it or Judd. One man knocks Paladin out from behind, and Judd tells his men to dump Paladin out of town and beat him to near-death.
Later, Lauro finds Paladin and brings him home to recover. He asks what Paladin will do now, and Paladin figures to recover his missing gun and holster. Lauro says that Paladin is much like Abel, and he doesn't want to see Paladin die as well. Paladin asks how Abel died, and Lauro takes him to the saloon. He explains that Abel was ambushed from the back office that belongs to Judd. They sneak in the back room and Lauro calls to one of the saloon girls, Linda. She comes over and Lauro says that he wants to buy Paladin's gun belt from one of Judd's men who has it. Linda calls him into the back room gives her instructions and a bill that Paladin slips him. Linda calls him over and Paladin punches him unconscious.
Next, Paladin and Lauro find another of Judd's men in the street. Paladin sets up a trap in front of a barn and tells Lauro to lead the man over with a trail of money. Lauro does so and then "finds" the money. When the man comes over, Paladin loops him with some rope under the hay and punches him unconscious.
Lauro later insults the third thug and taunts him into running at the blanket he holds up. Paladin is behind it, and punches the thug unconscious. Lauro then goes over to the fourth man's horse and gets up on it. The man runs out and falls down the steps since Paladin has removed one of them. Paladin has Lauro replace the step and takes his gun from the man's belt.
Paladin ties up the four men, takes them into the saloon, and summons Mrs. Hix and Harper. Lauro calls Judd out, saying someone is there to see hi. When Judd comes out, Paladin grabs him and takes his gun. He demands the truth about the "gunfight," and has Lauro testify that he saw Abel put on a gun after Judd told him to leave town. Lauro demonstrates as Paladin explains that Abel drew on Judd but refused to shoot, and Judd shot him. When Abel went down, he smiled at Judd and then he died. Paladin figures that Abel was praying, and he'd found Judd's real talent as an executioner. Judd denies it, but Paladin says that Abel was the fastest man with a gun who ever lived: faster than Paladin. Paladin tells Judd that he should be easy for Judd to take down, and has Lauro give Judd his gun back.
As the townspeople in the saloon watch, Judd takes off his gun belt and drops it to the floor. Harper says that there will be no question where Abel is buried, and Paladin tells Mrs. Hix to send for him if she needs him. Lauro goes out with Paladin, and says that he will stay there to watch over his sheep and his hills. Together they go to find Paladin's horse.
Written by Gadfly on Jul 17, 2017